Mesothelioma is an extremely aggressive form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. When a person inhales asbestos fibers, some of these particles remain inside and irritate the lungs. Over time, they can cause scarring and inflammation in the mesothelium – the protective lining of the chest cavity, lungs, and other internal organs. This scarring can spur the development of malignant cancer cells.
Mesothelioma is very deadly but often difficult to diagnose because of its unusually long latency period (up to several decades). People who have been exposed to asbestos and developed mesothelioma may not feel the effects until 30 to 50 years later, when the cancer has progressed to an advanced stage.
Are You at Risk?
If you have ever worked in construction, shipbuilding, or mining, then you and your family members may have been exposed to asbestos. In order to protect your health, you should read the following resources that provide information on diagnosing and treating mesothelioma:
- General mesothelioma information
- Asbestos exposure
- Mesothelioma symptoms
- Diagnosing mesothelioma
- Mesothelioma treatment
- Living with mesothelioma
It is important for you and your family to get a medical assessment as soon as possible if you think that you may be at risk of developing an asbestos-related disease. As with many other illnesses, the earlier you detect your condition and begin treatment, the better your chances.
Types of Mesothelioma
Currently, there are five known types of mesothelioma, four of which are malignant. These include the following:
- Pleural mesothelioma: the most common form of mesothelioma; attacks the pleura, which is the area of the mesothelium that lines the lungs
- Pericardial mesothelioma: attacks the pericardium, which is the area of the mesothelium that lines the heart
- Peritoneal mesothelioma: attacks the peritoneal membrane, which is the area of the mesothelium that lines the abdominal cavity
- Testicular mesothelioma: attacks the testicular region; is quite rare
Depending on what type of mesothelioma you have developed, you will experience different symptoms.
Once you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you should begin treatment for your condition right away. There are a variety of treatment options available, including:
Depending on your doctor’s recommendations and your own preferences or beliefs, you may select one or a combination of the above.